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Murders of widows Virginia Johannessen and Mary Jill Oberweis spotlighted on Dead of Winter

Murders of Virginia Johannessen and Mary Jill Oberweis spotlighted on Investigation Discovery. Pic Credit: Monsters and Critics

Two widows, Virginia Johannessen and Mary Jill Oberweis, who lived in the same neighborhood were found shot to death in their homes. Dead of Winter on Investigation Discovery explores their case.

On the night of January 5, 1993, Edward Tenney and his then 16-year-old cousin, Donald Lippert, entered Johannessen’s, 76, home in the 1300 block of Felton Road in Aurora, Illinois, where she lived alone, and shot her.

Lippert testified that when Tenney realized she wasn’t dead, he bludgeoned her to death with a hammer before fleeing the scene in her blue 1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88, which was later found abandoned about a mile away at a supermarket on Farnsworth Avenue.

Johannessen’s body was reportedly discovered in her home, next to $16 and a checkbook.

About 10 months later, another widow, 56-year-old Oberweis, who was a good friend of Johannessen and lived a few houses down, was also found shot to death in her home.

Lippert beat and shot Oberweis multiple times before robbing her of jewelry and other items to sell.

Three men, Michael Turner, Cory O. Jenkins, and Lester D. Salter, were initially charged with Johannessen’s murder in 1994.

After serving six months in jail and undergoing a nine-day trial, the men were acquitted when the state was unable to prove their involvement in the slaying.

In 1995, another man, Lionel Lane, was charged with Johannessen’s murder and later convicted.

However, three months after his conviction, he was set free when Tenney and Lippert allegedly confessed to the killing, after they were convicted of Oberweis’ murder.

Edward Tenney photo
Edward Tenney, one of two men convicted of murdering Virginia Johannessen and Mary Jill Oberweis. Pic Credit: Kane County Sheriff’s Office

Tenney was convicted of Johannessen’s murder thereafter, but because of a legal error in the trial, his conviction was overturned.

In 2002, a retrial began and a new jury found Tenney guilty of murdering Johannessen.

Tenney was initially sentenced to death for the murders of Johannessen, Oberweis, and 24-year-old Jerry Weber, who he fatally shot after robbing him of $6, but it was reduced to life in prison.

He later appealed and although the court affirmed his guilt, they vacated his life sentence and referred it back to court.

Lippert received 60 years in prison.

Dead of Winter—The Widows of Winter, airs at 10:00 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.


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